While Kyle Larson finished Daytona International Speedway in the 20th position, he still achieved his goal for the 2021 regular season.
He led Hamlin by 28 points going into the regular-season finale at Daytona and Larson’s main objective was to keep the lead and with the regular-season championship. He did so even by finishing 20th as Hamlin finished 13th.
“The race went well until the last lap,” Larson said. “We didn’t get any stage points the first stage, and the 11 [Denny Hamlin] did. I felt like after thinking about it a little bit more, if I could just kind of follow him and stay close to him in the second stage, he wouldn’t gain much on me. It actually ended up where I beat him in the second stage, and that gave me a little bit more comfort going into the final one.
“We were able to dodge a couple of wrecks. (Hamlin) actually got collected in one of them. Then it was kind of go for the win at that point. Just things didn’t work out for me in the green-white-checkered.”
As a result of his regular-season championship win, Larson was awarded 15 playoff points, taking his points to 2052 going into the postseason. Second-placed Ryan Blaney has 2024 points. As for Hamlin, he is seeded in the seventh position with 2015 points.
Having had most wins, top-five and top-10 finishes in the regular season, Larson will fancy his chances for the Cup Series championship this season.
“I think there’s a lot of good tracks for us,” Larson said. “I don’t know which ones, specifically. I feel like we have a shot to win anywhere right now. That’s encouraging.
“I really just look forward to getting it started next week, kind of getting into the flow of that, racing in the playoffs against multiple other drivers chasing points and wins. I feel good about it.”